First Baptist in the Twentieth Century

By 1900 Providence was 25th in population in the United States and was an industrial powerhouse, boasting its “Five Industrial Wonders of the World.” The First Baptist Church in America had over 700 members on its rolls, but great changes were coming for the state, the city, and the church. The tides of immigration changed Rhode Island from a Protestant Yankee state to an immigrant Roman Catholic state. Not only had the composition of the population changed, the physical character of Providence itself was being transformed. Where once there had been houses and small shops, great factories, banks, commercial establishments, and big buildings stood in their place. First Baptist Church saw its residential neighborhood disappear in the changes in the twentieth century. In 1860 one could stand on any corner of the church yard and throw a stone that would hit the house of a member of the church. By 1940 no residences remained. The greatest changes came from the deindustrialization of Rhode Island and the substantial decline in the population of Providence itself.

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